tv NBC Nightly News NBC March 2, 2011 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
fighting words. they come from a small church. they say horrible things at the funerals of u.s. military. is that free speech? there was a big supreme court ruling today. fighting back. gadhafi's fierce pushback against his own people. as others fall, how does he survive? whose side are you on in the showdown over unions and collective bargaining. tonight we'll show you what people say in our new poll. the secret lives of animals.
do you ever wonder what they're up to when nobody's watching? now we know. a surprise appearance today to unveil the next big thing. nightly news begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. they go to the funerals of americans who have been killed in action in iraq and afghanistan and they hold up signs saying things like "thank god for dead soldiers," "god hates you" and "it's too late to pray." they do this in the name of religion. of course, what they do is an insult to religion. they are members of the westboro baptist church in kansas and they're the last thing a grief-stricken parent wants to see, but is what they're doing free speech? do they deserve protection even if what we like to say is a free country. today the supreme court said yes, our constitution protects a lot of things including in this
thing, hatred. it's where we begin our broadcast tonight with our justice correspondent pete williams at the court. pete, good evening. >> reporter: brian, this is a big victory for a group from kansas who believes america is morally flawed. while americans may feel the same way about the group, the constitution protects messages that society finds offensive. the courtsided with members of the tiny westboro kansas baptist church who have protested at hundreds of military funerals and claim that u.s. war deaths are god's punishment for the nation's acceptance of gay rights. when they showed up outside of a maryland church at the funeral of matthew snyder, a marine killed in iraq they carried signs that says thank god for dead soldiers and god hates you. that outraged his father who sued the group for emotional distress. the group demonstrated in a public place on issues of public concern and obeyed local laws, keeping them 1,000 feet from the church. writing for eight members of the
court, chief justice john roberts said speech is powerful and it can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and as it here, inflict great pain, but he said, the government cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. today matthew snyder's father reacted with disgust. >> eight justices doesn't gave the common sense god gave a goat. we can no longer bury our dead in this country with dignity. >> reporter: civil liberties groups supported the ruling. >> the court's decision properly and acknowledged the snyder's family grief, but correctly held that the response to that grief cannot include abandoning core first amendment principles that protect even the most unpopular speech. today one of the protesters said the ruling gives them freshen couragement. >> we're telling you your stinking theater is on fire and we will continue to tell you that. we have not slowed down, thank god, and we will not. >> >> reporter: the court's single dissenter said the commitment to free debate is not
a license for the vicious verbal a assault that the snyder family suffered. veterans groups denounced the ruling and said they'll urge counter demonstrations to blunt the impact of the kansas protesters. >> we just want to blank out and seal their message totally. hopefully if nobody hears them they'll go away. >> reporter: the court said the message can't be stopped and communities can't impose restrictions on protests outside funerals, something 44 states have already done. >> pete williams with an important day in washington. thanks. >> now we turn to news overseas in an effort to form a free country. it's been a wild 24 hours in libya. moammar gadhafi has made it clear he's not going without a fight and there was some fierce fights overnight as he tried to take back parts of eastern libya from the rebels who took it from him. this was his first offensive against the fighters holding that part of the country, which by the way, is where the oil is and his forces tried to move in on two key towns. we have the story covered
tonight with our team on the ground in the region. we want to begin with nbc's stephanie goss. she's in benghazi, the unofficial operating base for the anti-gadhafi rebels. stephanie, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. gadhafi wasn't looking to retake a town. he was going after the oil. brega is one of the most important oil ports in the country, the surprise attack worked, at first. today gadhafi struck back at the rebels in the east. this youtube video claims to show the raging battle in brega. militia forces moved in at dawn with suvs and mounted machine guns. one opposition fighter in the small oil town described a massacre. >> a terrible situation. we went there nearly hundreds, just maybe 20 got back and returned alive. >> the ground attack was followed by air strikes, repeatedly hitting a weapons
depot in a nearby town. while injuries from the gun battle filled the local hospital, this 6-year-old boy was caught in the cross fire. >> it's a massacre right now. it's a massacre. >> but these aren't peaceful protesters. this is a rebel fighting force, disorganized, inexperienced and heavily armed. when news came that brega had been attacked, they rushed to the fight and pushed back gadhafi's militia. many signed up in the town of benghazi which has become the rebel capital of the east. we will win or we will die, this man says. the difficult part will be harnessing that energy and using it it create an effective fighting force. there have been 5,000 people that have been scripted so far. most have never served in the military and never fired a gun. formal military officers have started the training while munitions are stockpiled around town and weapons are tested. on the streets, demonstrations continue with defiance and in an
open contempt of moammar gadhafi that was once unthinkable. stephanie goss, nbc news, benghazi. >> >> reporter: i'm jim maceda in tripoli. moammar gadhafi, the longest-serving leader chose this day, the anniversary of his ref lieution and this crowd, packed with supporters and dozens of journalists to set the record straight. here is what he said about libya's uprising. there is no uprising, no power struggles and no internal problems in libya. it's the kind of head-snapping response the world has come to know. gadhafi in his flowing robes, head held high and speaking for two and a half hours hardly looked like a spent force. he's always been eccentric, female bodyguards, a ukrainian nurse and the bed wynn tent even in new york. some call him defiant others delusional. which is it in. >> you don't get to run a
country for four decades by being a flake. >> reporter: gadhafi has survived through patronage keeping control through brutality. there is a conspiracy to control the libyan oil and to control the libyan land and colonize libya again, he said. in this room, at least, he knew he was adored and safe. every pen had been checked. some of the experts even talk about gadhafiism, a kind of socialist philosophy with a manic twist. however long he lasts, they say, he'll be a tough act to follow. >> jim, maceda, steve. >> goss starting our coverage, and now to our chief foreign correspondent richard engel, he's gotten into tripoli and richard, what are you seeing there tonight and what do you say to people who want to know about the endgame? >> reporter: it is such a different feeling here. when i was in benghazi you could feel there was a revolution under way. people are excited. they're motivated. many people are out with weapons
and they're wearing berets. here in tripoli there is a feeling that people just want to ignore this. we're in the eye of the storm even though this city is now circled with checkpoints by gadhafi supporters. in the center of the town as we drove in from the airport today you don't see any military presence. instead we saw people out sweeping the streets. there are restaurants that are open. gadhafi and this city appear to believe that if they ignore the war, perhaps it just won't come on to the center of the city, and if this continues and gadhafi remains in power and the people choose to accept this suspended state of reality, then this could last a while. >> all right. richard engel in tripoli for us tonight. thanks. the fighting in libya today helped send oil up on another rocket ride. it closed above $ 100 a barrel where it stand at 102.23. general petraeus has made a
highly unusual personal apology tonight after a deadly mistake by nato forces in the mountains of eastern afghanistan. nine boys were collecting firewood when they were killed by nato helicopters overhead. they were mistaken for insurgents on the ground. the victims included two sets of brothers. in his apology general petraeus called the incident a tragedy. he said these deaths should every in have happened. two members of the u.s. air force on their way to afghanistan were killed. two others were badly injured today when a gunman opened fire on a u.s. military bus at the airport in frankfurt, germany. a 21-year-old man was arrested at the scene. a relative says he is a german muslim who worked at the airport. german police aren't ready to call this an act of terrorism, but they so far aren't ruling it out either. the army today filed 22 new charges against bradley manning, the young private first class accused of illegally downloading
tens of thousands of classified u.s. documents that were then publicly released by wikileaks. the most serious among the new charges filed today is aiding the enemy, a charge that could result in the death penalty, but the prosecution would not recommend it. they're asking for a life sentence instead. we have the results of a new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll and we got information about how americans feel about the fight in wisconsin and other states over collective bargaining rights for public employees. our chief white house correspondent and political director chuck todd with us from washington. chuck, good evening. >> good evening, brian. perhaps the most surprising number was how many people were paying attention to this showdown in madison. 73% said they're following the story very closely so we asked them, public government workers, should they have the same collective bargaining rights as private employees? 77% said yes, they should. that said, these same folks said
68% of them said government workers should have to contribute more to their own retirement. 63% said they should contribute more to their own health care and 58% agree for a one-year salary freeze for all government workers. president obama signed what's called a continuing resolution to fund the government for another two weeks avoiding a government shutdown and there is still a big battle to figure out how to tackle the deficit. we tested 26 different proposals and we found out one of the most acceptable and unacceptable. three more acceptable proposals, a tax on millionaires. eliminating earmarks by members of congress and getting rid of tax subsidies to oil and gas companies and the three most unacceptable ideas, cutting any funding for medicare, cutting any benefits out of social security and cutting any funding out of k through 12 education, and of course, the other big story in the last month has been the uprising in the middle east, and as you can see here, president obama gets fairly high
marks for his handling of egypt. 55% approve of what he's doing there. on libya right now, there is a lot more undecided. . 48% approve of how he's handling libya at this point, but there seems to be a lot of folks with a wait-and-see attitude trying to see what does all of this mean? a lot of folks paying close attention. fascinating new numbers. chuck todd in washington, thanks. up next this evening, imagine realizing everything has changed where you grew up. tom brokaw tonight on an american city that is dealing with just that. and later, what wild animals have been doing this whole time when night falls and no one has been around to watch. try thermacare heatwraps, for all day relief without pills. i was surprised, thermacare worked all day. you feel the heat. and it relaxes and unlocks the muscle. you've got to try it. [ man ] thermacare, more effective for back pain than the maximum dose of acetaminophen, the medicine in tylenol. go to thermacare.com today for a $3 off coupon.
for many, nexium helps relieve heartburn symptoms caused by acid reflux disease. talk to your doctor about your risk for osteoporosis-related bone fractures if you take multiple daily doses of nexium for a long time. possible side effects include headache, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. other serious stomach conditions may still exist. talk to your doctor about nexium. if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help. our series of reports continues tonight on america at the crossroads. tonight, a city that was hit hard even before this last recession came along. tom brokaw is back here from
pennsylvania. welcome. >> redding, pennsylvania, was once a thriving manufacturing center turning out steam engines for knitted goods and then it was a destination for discount store, but now redding's proud past is only a memory as it struggles like so many cities in this country, to just stay alive economically. in a classroom at redding high school there is an energetic debate on the city's economy. >> 15 years ago we were the number one outlet center of the world. >> reporter: redding was once a destination city, buzzing with factories and overflowing with retail stores. today it is a far different place. >> i was giving a speech in class, and how i opened up the speech was by show of hands who cannot wait to get out of redding and sure enough my whole class raised their hand. >> reporter: senior tyler washington says that after college he wants to come back some day, but he doesn't know
when. >> unfortunately, we don't have a diversity of employment so if they're interested in certain fields they know they have to go off to another city. >> reporter: this mostly vacated industrial site but then, that business went south. the company that owned the plant, packed up and moved out. there is light at the end of the tunnel. >> reporter: mayor thomas mcmahon is chief executive of the city of 81,000 people. unemployment is 12%. the city has the highest poverty level in the state. it also has a shrinking tax base. >> our total bill for police and fire on an annual basis is $40 million. our total tax income comes in on property tax and incomed tax is over 30. >> redding has been designated by the state as officially financially distressed, a status that gives the city the power to raise taxes and it gives it more
power on collective bargaining with public union. in return, redding must balance its budget. according to the mayor, the only real solution for places like redding is to team up with surrounding governments to share assets and opportunities. >> we've got to get away from this little mentality that every borough and burgh and tiny city has to survive on their own. i think metro government makes a lot of sense. >> in the meantime, more cuts in the city budget and that worries police chief big hine. he has lost 20% of his force in the last four years. >> we are cut to the bone in so many places that public safety, police officers and fire fighters now are feeling that pinch. >> woodworking, photography, all types of arts. >> reporter: albert boscoff, a prominent businessman is making redding an art center, to renovate downtown neighborhoods. despite the tough odds he refuses to give up.
>> if you were a young investor without the emotional attachment to redding that you have, would you be putting dollars into the city at this point? >> it's not a great investment from a real estate point of view because it hasn't gone up yet. our feeling is with the housing program and with the things we're doing downtown that we will see a reversal in real estate. >> reporter: redding has a proud history, dating in the mid-1700s, but now a third of its population lives in poverty. a third of its students drop out of high school. if redding is to have a renewal it can't come soon enough. brian, redding is not alone. other pennsylvania cities that once relied on manufacturing have lost 40% of those jobs in the last 20 years. so to survive, many experts believe the old rules of separate cities and counties will have to be changed. they should consolidate so costs can be shared and opportunities created on a regional basis. brian? >> redding is a great place. a whole lot of people cheering for it. tom, thanks.
the series continues tomorrow night. up next as we continue here tonight, the newest thing from apple came out today along with a big surprise. 3q ( woman ) even with an overactive bladder, i don't always let the worry my pipes might leak compromise what i like to do. i take care with vesicare, because i have better places to visit than just the bathroom. ( announcer ) once-daily vesicare can help control your bladder muscle, and is proven to treat overactive bladder with symptoms of frequent urges and leaks, day and night. if you have certain stomach or glaucoma problems, or trouble emptying your bladder, do not take vesicare. vesicare may cause allergic reactions that may be serious. if you experience swelling of the face, lips, throat or tongue, stop taking vesicare and get emergency help. tell your doctor right away if you have severe abdominal pain or become constipated for three or more days. vesicare may cause blurred vision, so use caution while driving or doing unsafe tasks. common side effects are dry mouth, constipation, and indigestion. ( woman ) you have better things to join than always a line for the bathroom.
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today, as thin as the iphone, lighter than the current ipad, more speed, power, memory and battery and two cameras, but the big news was the guy who showed up at the unveiling. >> good morning. [ applause ] >> steve jobs, the creator, the personification of apple and the man who makes our stuff obsolete every couple of months, a surprise appearance today in the midst of ill health, looking thin, but giving an energetic presentation of the product. he is one of the great living veterans of hollywood. a modern-day link to the golden era and yet we learned today there's a lot we didn't know about the life of actor mickey rooney. he went to washington today to talk about abuse of the elderly, and that meant telling his own story and breaking his silence about. alleged abuse at the hands of his own family members. >> even when i tried to speak up i was told to shut up and be quiet. you don't know what you're
talking about. it seemed that no one -- no one wanted to believe me. >> it's a gripping story and our own kelly o'donnell got an exclusive interview with mickey rooney which you'll be able to see tomorrow morning on "today." when we come back here tonight, spy cameras put to a whole new use and you can't take your eyes off what they've seenf l with heart-related chest pain or a heart attack known as acs, you may not want to face the fact that you're at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke. plavix helps protect people with acs against heart attack or stroke: people like you. it's one of the most researched prescription medicines. goes beyond what they do alone by helping to keep blood platelets from sticking and forming dangerous clots. plavix. protection against heart attack or stroke in people with acs. [ female announcer ] plavix is not for everyone.
certain genetic factors and some medicines such as prilosec reduce the effect of plavix leaving you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. your doctor may use genetic tests to determine treatment. don't stop taking plavix without talking to your doctor as your risk of heart attack or stroke may increase. people with stomach ulcers or conditions that cause bleeding should not use plavix. taking plavix alone or with some other medicines, including aspirin, may increase bleeding risk, which can potentially be life threatening, so tell your doctor when planning surgery. tell your doctor all medicines you take, including aspirin, especially if you've had a stroke. if fever, unexplained weakness or confusion develops, tell your doctor promptly. these may be signs of ttp, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, reported sometimes less than two weeks after starting plavix.
it was a mystery to me. i found out that connected to our muscles are nerves that send messages through the body. my doctor diagnosed it as fibromyalgia, thought to be the result of overactive nerves that cause chronic, widespread pain. lyrica is believed to calm these nerves. i learned lyrica can provide significant relief from fibromyalgia pain. and with less pain, i can do more of what matters to me. [ female announcer ] lyrica is not for everyone. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worsening depression, or unusual changes in mood or behavior or any swelling or affected breathing, or skin, or changes in eyesight, including blurry vision or muscle pain with fever or tired feeling. common side effects are dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain and swelling of hands, legs and feet. don't drink alcohol while taking lyrica. don't drive or use machinery until you know how lyrica affects you. i found answers about fibromyalgia. then i found lyrica. ask your doctor about lyrica today.
finally tonight, just as about every fisherman alive has wanted at some point to see down there in the water, see those fish, what they're up to and how to catch more of them. we've probably all wondered what critters do when it's dark at night and nobody's watching, and fortunately for all of us, the smithsonian institution wondered the same thing. and they set out some cameras and they have recorded the most amazing things, and so tonight nbc's lee cowan rips the cover off the nighttime world. >> reporter: they are captured without a net or a dart and without harm. some of the world's most magnificent animals whose only complaint may be that their
privacy was invaded a bit. it's candid camera in the wilderness. more than 200,000 snaps that the smithsonian has put together to create an online digital safari that has viewers going wild. >> feel like we've created a monster. >> reporter: using cameras triggered by motion and heat, researchers have been able to get some astonishing images without humans mucking it up. from a jaguar in peru, a blood pheasant in china to a spotted hyena in kenya. in this single watering hole the cameras knot a thirsty tacken, but a giant panned a too this one found the camera so irresistible it tried to taste it which gave researchers a glimpse of the inside of a panda's mouth. >> these are rugged cameras and built to be put in extreme environment. it's part of the smithsonian's 2.0 initiative, in an effort to give the public more access to
science, all at the click of the mouse. all creatures great and small. talk about a deer in headlights. photos may have been intended for research, but in the eyes of some beholders, they become art, too. lee cowan, nbc news, los angeles. >> we have a link to all of the photos for you on our website tonight. for us, for now that's our broadcast for this wednesday evening. thank you for being with us, i'm ,rian williams and as always, we ♪ i may be mud, but i have standards. mops? please. some of them have bacteria. ♪ and they try to pick me up? ew. i'm really hard to get. uh!